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tv   9 News Now at 6pm  CBS  November 12, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EST

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shocking. apparently the feds have had johnson's entire house bugged. today when they went to serve the warrant agents found lesli johnson was hiding $80,000 in her underwear that she was wearing. more cash was in her bra. right now county executive jack johnson and his wife are both charged with two felony counts. the first, witness and evidence tampering. the second charge destruction, falsifying of records. the penalty could bring 20 years in prison on each count and a large fine. here are agents leaving his home. they raided his home and county executive building in upper marlboro and other offices too. bruce leshan is live at the county office building in upper marlboro. scott broom is live in mitchellville. we go first to the county courthouse in green belt. what have you learned?
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>> reporter: it gets more and more shocking, lesli. not only did mrs. johnson allegedly stuff 80,000 plus dollars in her underwear, we also learned through the 10- page eaved we just got our hands on that jack johnson, the prince george's county executive allegedly instructed her to flush down the toilet a $100,000 check. apparent evidence allegedly received by him from a developer working in this area. wanted to let you know right now we are awaiting a post court appearance news conference with the u.s. attorney. the fbi. and the irs. all of them to discuss this case. in the courtroom jack johnson wore a button down shirt, khaki pants, kept his hands on his chin most of the time. did not look at the packed courtroom filled with journalists and spectators. mrs. johnson who recently ran
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unopposed and was due to be sworn into the county council in december, she showed up in the courtroom wearing a black sweat suit looking visibly tired. appeared not to be wearing any makeup. both jack johnson and leslie johnson were ordered released and sent home to their home in mitchellville but there are some conditions. jack johnson ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device. both are allowed to work. both have been asked to surrender their passports and any travel documents. the judge ordered both of them not to destroy any further evidence. and not to tamper with witnesses. and interesting since this case involves financial transactions, they have also been ordered not to make any
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financial transactions more than $1000. their counsel both talked to the judge ask they alleged that their home utility bill from pepco was more than $1000. that was the only element of the orders that was waived. they can spend more apparently under pretrial services conditions. again, we are awaiting a news conference with the fbi, the u.s. attorney and the irs. we will bring that to you just as soon as it becomes available. but an astonishing affidavit, ten pages worth of allegations, most of them involving financial transactions with the outgoing prince george's county executive jack johnson and his wife leslie who is a county council member come december. he was due to leave office december 6th. end his term. but now he faces as much as a 20-year prison term if convicted. reporting live from prince george's county -- let's go to
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the podium. again, we are going to hear from the u.s. attorney, the fbi and the irs about this pending case. a stunning case. >> good evening. i'm the u.s. attorney for maryland. i'm proud to be joined tonight by a special agent in charge of the fbi and rebecca sparkman, in charge of the irs. at about 11:30 a.m. this morning fbi and irs agents arrested jack johnson and his wife leslie johnson. the charges against mr. and mrs. johnson are detailed in an affidavit that was filed by an fbi agent in a federal court hearing in green belt this afternoon. federal agents also executed search warrants at 13 locations in prince george's county. i want to make two points about corruption investigations before i discuss the details of this case. number 1, most government employees are honest and law abiding. it is easy to be cynical when you hear about corruption
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allegations. but i want people to be reassured reassured that any corruption here in prince george's corruption throughout maryland -- we don't do fishing expeditions. we follow leads that are credible allegations of wrongdoing. those investigations are conducted by career federal investigators and agents who are continually supervised by supervisory agents and supervisory prosecutors. we just follow the evidence where they lead. the suspects in this case are deemed not guilty until they are found guilty in court. it was a criminal complaint filed here in court in greenville. two federal crimes. first is tampering with a
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witness and evidence. second is destruction of records in a federal investigation. each of these crimes carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. the details of the allegations are spelled out in the federal criminal complaint. the fbi has been conducting a long-term investigation of corruption allegations here in prince george's county. with the support of the irs and other agents as well. these investigations involve allegations that real estate developers have been paying off government officials in return for official action. in connection with the real estate development investigation and another investigation, fbi agents have obtained court ordered wiretaps that have been place since september of 2009. the specific allegation in this complaint concerns a federal program overseen by the u.s. department of housing and urban development. the program is known as the
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home investment partnership. under that program federal funds are granted to state and localities. they are overseen by the community housing and development, a department of prince george's government that reports to the county executive. those grants must be approved by the county council before they are officially issued. the complaint allegeds that a real estate developer gave jack johnson currency and checks, including a check for $100,000 in return for home funds and other assistance. on november 5th of 2010, according to the complaint, fbi agents monitored a meeting at which the developer gave jack johnson $5000 in currency in return for official action. today, the complaint alleges that fbi agents monitored a meeting at which that developer gave jack johnson $15,000 in
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currency in return for official acts. after the meeting this morning, fbi agents interviewed jack johnson about the alleged event. jack johnson was permitted to leave that interview according to the complaint then made a series of telephone calls to his wife leslie johnson. those calls were monitored by fbi agents pursuant to a court order wiretap. when fbi agents knocked on the door of the johnson's home according to the affidavit, jack and leslie had a conversation about how to destroy evidence and how to conceal currency that was in the house. jack and leslie johnson discussed destroying a check from the developer, specifically mr. johnson told leslie johnson to flush the check down the toilet. agents entered the home and conducted a search of leslie johnson. according to the allegations in
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the affidavit agents discovered 79,600 concealed on mrs. johnson. now, the affidavit reveals that today's law enforcement investigation is the tip of an iceburg. what i mean by that is that it is part of a broader ongoing corruption investigation by the fbi and the irs here in prince george's county. that investigation is active and ongoing. in the coming weeks and months, you'll learn more about the details of this investigation as the matter proceeds. we still have several real estate developers and government officials to be interviewed and fbi and irs agents will be conducting those interviews and gathering additional evidence over the coming days. we expect additional defendants and additional charges to arise out of these investigations. we are not able today to discuss any more details beyond what is contained in the
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affidavit filed in this case. i want to invite the other two to make comments but before i do i want to express my appreciation to the prosecutors and u.s. attorney's office, assistant u.s. attorney and others that have been conducting this investigation. the work has been done by fbi and irs agents. it is our practice not to name them but they know who they are and they have been doing an extraordinary amount of work in the past weeks. let me now introduce the special agent in charge. >> thank you. i will be very brief. today we partially took down what we term the covert phase of an investigation that has lasted for many years and involved a multitude of investigative techniques. over the next few months irs
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and fbi members will be conducting interviews of people who we believe have information with regard to this investigation. if you have information regarding a pay to play scheme in this county or state it is far better for you to talk to us now than for us to come knocking on your door. we are committed to putting an end to public officials who dishonor their office by accepting bribes in exchange for favourable treatment. i'm going to introduce irs special agent in charge now for her comments. >> the irs criminal investigation is proud to provide or financial investigative expertise in our joint work with the fbi, our federal law enforcement partner. this combined force will continue to make a difference in our local communities. today's actions demonstrate our collective efforts to enforce
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the law and to ensure public trust. public officials hold positions of trust and the irs criminal investigation is working to ensure that public officials abide by all of the laws as the citizens do whom they serve. public trust is broken when public officials commit crimes. irs criminal investigation sends the message with the fbi that no public official gets a free pass as no one is above the law. thank you. >> any follow-up on the special agent's invitation to anyone that has more information to contact the fbi. we will be happy to take any questions. >> you spoke with additional defendants. will there be more elected officials caught up in this mess? >> we are not going to comment who might be charged in this case other than to tell that you there will be additional charges and there will be
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additional defendants. >> what role did election day play in the timing? >> election day played absolutely no role in the timing of these arrests. in fact, as you can disearn from the affidavit, the actions today were initiated by the defendants not law enforcement. we followed the evidence in this case and reacted to quickly developing crimes. >> are you concerned that mr. johnson decided to destroy evidence or tampered with witnesses and is allowed to go home after tonight? >> the judge today released mr. johnson on certain conditions and one of those is not to destroy evidence. we always worry about destruction of evidence in our cases but in this case we have taken a lot of steps today as i mentioned searches of 13 locations and gathered a fair amount of evidence that we are going to be reviewing over the coming weeks. >> what are the other locations and were any of those locations involved? >> the 13 locations.
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obviously the johnson's home was disclosed today. in addition a number of government offices that were searched. >> any additional homes? >> not going to comment on any specific locations. >> how did the fbi initially get tipped off about this alleged corruption case? >> as i mentioned, we are limited today to discussing what is actually contained in the affidavit. the affidavit reveals the investigation has been ongoing for several years. we are not going to talk about what specific evidence led to the investigation other than to reiterate as i said we don't do fishing expeditions. >> it sounds like you weren't ready to pull the trigger for the state today. did it necessitate everything that went down today? >> in planning law enforcement operations as happened over the last few days we try to prepare for every contingency. you never know exactly what will happen. in this case the affidavit alleges there was an effort to
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destroy evidence [ question by reporter ] >> i'm not going to talk specifically about who might be charged or what charges might be filed other than to say we do expect additional charges. >> the developer whoever he or she is, are they cooperating with you in this investigation? >> we are not going to comment who is or is not cooperating. agents will be interviewing a lot of folks including developers and government employees. and they don't know what we know. and we would like to keep it that way. >> talk about the tip of the iceberg. >> when i talk about the tip of the iceberg i'm talking about this investigation. as mentioned it has been a long standing and broad investigation. i'm not going to be able to talk about what else it might lead to so i'm not going to be able to comment on that at this
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point. the johnsons are charged with two charges in this complaint. i'm not going to comment beyond that. i won't be able to comment on anything beyond the scope. mr. johnson was released on electronic monitoring and mrs. johnson was released on her own recognizance. i believe there is a condition for them to obtain court approval for any transactions over $1000. [ question from reporter ] >> as i said, unfortunately we wonts be able to answer any questions about the allegations beyond what is in the affidavit. >> will more charges be filed? the irs is involved. you haven't mentioned anything
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about any irs charges. >> unfortunately i can't elaborate beyond what i have said about potential charges. >> do you believe any evidence, documents, cash was flushed down the toilet today before your agents got there? >> i can't comment on that. the affidavit is south there. you can draw your own conclusions from it. we can't comment beyond the affidavit. our goal here is to send two messages. one two any officials who might be engaged in corruption that it is not safe. that is, that federal agents are working. often they are working quietly as in this case. but they are working constantly to uncover corruption. the second is sometimes people do develop a sense of being cynical. if you have evidence of corruption you can report it and agents are standing by to do something about it.
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call the fbi. thank you very much. >> you're listening to a press conference essentially laying out the charges against jack johnson and his wife leslie johnson. you heard the u.s. attorney talking about a pay to play scheme that involves real estate developers and money from the government that was supposed to go to fund affordable housing. bruce leshan, this was an incredible press conference as we heard this information. i don't have the affidavit in front of me. i have been taking notes. but the u.s. attorney mentioned that there were 13. it happens to be the building you're standing behind. >> reporter: yes, they executed a search warrant here. in fact, the fbi agents just left this location but you can bet that those words from that news conferences are ringing through the ears of a whole lot
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of people throughout prince george's county. a number of other people who could end up getting charged. the allegations are that this kind of pay to play scheme has been going on here in prince george's county for a number of years. there have been other investigations, investigations that have been uncovered by other media and in a number of those cases, there were names of county council members here at the counties administration building who were connected to some of these allegations. so you can bet that if any of them were involved, they are listening very closely to what the u.s. attorney had to say about expecting additional defendants and additional charges. said he wasn't going to talk about who those defendants were. but then the irs talked about -- and the fbi, if you have been involved in pay to play it is far better to talk to us now than for us to come out and knock on your door.
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police officers turned us away when we tried to get a look at the federal agent searching inside the office where jack johnson has presided as county executive for the last eight years. before that he was state's attorney. prince george's counties' chief law enforcement officer. his wife leslie has just been elected to a four-year term as a county council member but now we learn the fbi has been investigating shakedowns by johnson at least since the start of his second term. sources say the latest allegations revolve around a massive development near the green belt metro station. going back two years investigators have been looking at shakedowns of developers interested in green belt station. this year, a new carollton developer sued prince george's county alleging johnson and his
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allies. despite the allegations of checks down the toilet and money stuffed underwear his spokesman insists that johnson has been a good leader for the county. >> he brought a lot of development and a lot of jobs to this county. and brought a lot of pride here. jack johnson is, if not the greatest, but one of the greatest county executives and local politicians there are in the washington region. and his record speaks for that. >> reporter: again, you heard at the news conference from green belt u.s. district court that the covert phase, the undercover phase of this investigation is over. but the outward phase, the phase that will continue as they process some of these records will go on and the potential is that there will definitely be more charges. the u.s. attorney's office refuses to say who any of those other targets might be of the
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investigation. again, leslie johnson had just been elected. she was slated to take office december 6th at noon just as her husband was due to leave office. >> thank you. bruce leshan reporting. scott broom is live outside of the johnson home now. scott, we learned that this fbi investigation had been going on for years but investigators, we got the sense that they needed to move fast today because of what they heard the johnson's allegedly talking about. >> reporter: yes. apparently they were talking on the phone as investigators were knocking on the door and, in fact, there is a broken window in the house behind us. right at 5 p.m., nine investigators here wrapped it up and when we saw what they were leaving with from the house here, and we matched that up with these allegations, it does appear that the search here may have been quite
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revealing. 9 investigators leave the johnson residence tonight with at least 13 crates of evidence. it included clothing. earlier in the day a plumber was called to the residence saying he was here to dismantle toilets. leslie johnson is expected of trying to flush a $100,000 check down the drain. there was a broken window and investigators could be seen inside scouring the house. they nokdz on the door at 10:10 a.m. and simultaneously monitored jack johnson on a wiretapped cell phone ordering his wife inside to destroy evidence before letting investigators in. johnson was returned to the home and finally was led away in handcuffs about 1:00 p.m. in the afternoon just after his wife had been taken away. neither one had anything to say. friends and neighbors were shocked by what they saw. >> he is our neighbor. they are our neighbors. they just got arrested. i'm just like what happened. is everything okay? we socialize with them.
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just shocking. very nice people. very kind people. >> reporter: one of the neighbors we talked to here today saw all these federal cars outside. there were about a dozen of them. and she said she thought there was a party at the house and when she learned there were indictments and that johnson and his wife had been led away in handcuffs she broke into tears. we also know tonight that johnson and his wife will be released from custody with home monitoring devices. we do not know if they are returning back leer to the house. but we will monitor it and we will let you know if we see them. reporting live in mitchellville, scott broom, 9 news now. >> scott, certainly not the kind of party that anybody would want at their house. that's for sure. thank you for that. we are going to take a quick break. on the other side topper will come back with the forecast. [ male announcer ] it's a rule of nature.
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game is over. next seven days. tuesday we will not escape a cold rain. temperatures only in the low 50s. maybe some showers early wednesday. we will salvage a pretty nice afternoon. temperature about 59. then kind of a pattern change if you will. chilly on thursday and friday of next week. temperatures only in the low 50s on thursday and will struggle to get to 50 on friday. that is the full sun. so enjoy the october-like weekend because mid-november will come roaring in here. >> absolutely. >> topper, thank you for that. of course, this show is over but the 7:00 p.m. show is coming up. and we are going to continue our coverage of the indictment of prince george's county executive jack johnson and his wife leslie in connection with a widespread pay to play scheme. again, derek will have the latest at 7:00 p.m. we will have more on this throughout the night and, of course, you can stay on top of the latest developments at any point in the night and day at wusa9.com. we are always on. hope you have a great weekend. captions by: caption colorado, llc 800-775-7838 email: comments@captioncolorado.com i love my curves.
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